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Wed, 04 May 2016
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Snakes in Suits

Corrupt Michigan officials hid lead levels by 'gaming' the sampling process to falsify results

Michigan Attorney General Files Criminal Charges Over Tainted Water in Flint
A 2008 email from a Michigan water quality official asked a technician in Fenton, Michigan, near Flint, to falsify the results of a high lead sampling by testing more homes.

The Guardian reviewed the email and reported on it Wednesday. Adam Rosenthal of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) sent the email to the technician and copied Mike Prysby, the engineer in MDEQ's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance who was just indicted on criminal charges for his role in the Flint water crisis.

Samples collected from five of the nearly 45 homes in the Chateaux Du Lac Condominiums, in the small town of Fenton, which runs its own private water system, were sent to the MDEQ and showed high levels of lead. One of the homes tested at 115 parts per billion (ppb)—almost ten times higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "action level" of 15 ppb. Rosenthal wrote in his September 16, 2008 email, "I just saw the results—115 ppb for lead is a bit high. Since this is an annual round of monitoring, which ends 9/30/08, there is still time to collect more samples and possibly bump this one out."

Dr. Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech University engineering professor who exposed the high lead levels in Flint when he conducted his own sampling, told the Guardian, "Oh my gosh, I've never heard [it] more black and white. In the Flint emails, if you recall, it was a little bit implied ... this is like telling the strategy, which is: 'You failed, but if you go out and get a whole bunch more samples that are low, then you can game it lower.'

"It just shows that this culture of corruption and unethical, uncaring behavior predated Flint by at least six years."

Comment: Note to America: When corruption is rampant, empires fall


Lightning strikes Icelandair plane on way to Heathrow

© Sam Van Tilburgh/Twitter
The dramatic moment a passenger plane was apparently hit by lightning near Heathrow Airport has been caught on camera.

The jet, flying from Reykjavik in Iceland, was struck during a storm over London on Wednesday evening.

A video taken by Kevin McArdle in Parsons Green, west London, showed the plane in the middle of the picture.

It was flying below a large dark cloud before a lightning bolt appeared, followed by a rumble of thunder a couple of seconds later.


Life Preserver

Destitute, humiliated, isolated in 21st century Britain: Over 1.25 million and rising

© Andrew Winning/Reuters
In a climate of unyielding austerity, more than a million people across the UK are so impoverished they don't have enough food, clothes, heating, shelter and toiletries, Britain's first study into destitution has revealed.
The report, which was commissioned by UK charity the Joseph Rowntree Trust (JRT), used a new method to measure the scale of extreme poverty in Britain.

At present, there are no official government estimates of the level of destitution across the UK. But amid growing concern that extreme poverty is on the rise, the JRF commissioned a special report to investigate the matter. The study was conducted by academics at Herriot-Watt University, a range of other experts and a number of key UK service providers.

It took two years to complete, and was published on Wednesday. It found that a startling 1.25 million people were destitute during 2015, 312,000 of whom were children. Some 80 percent of these were born in Britain. While young, single citizens - especially men - were found to be more likely to suffer from extreme poverty, considerable numbers of families were also found to have suffered destitution.

Most severe form of poverty

Destitution is defined as the "most severe form of poverty in the UK," which leaves people in such financial jeopardy they are unable to afford vital essentials such as food, toiletries and heating. In order to discern whether an impoverished person can be defined as destitute, the report's authors said they must lack two or more essentials deemed vital for basic living over a four-week period.

People who fell into this category included: those who had been forced to sleep rough; had no meal or just one per day over a period of 48 hours or longer; were unable to heat or light their home adequately for five or more days, and lacked weather-proof clothes or had to go without basic toiletries.

Comment: Austerity bites: UK experiencing devastating increase in homelessness

Eye 1

A step in the right direction? Email Privacy Act passes

You probably think the US government needs a warrant if they want to dig through your old emails, texts, and instant messages, right? Well, you're wrong! That may change soon with the Email Privacy Act, which was just passed in the House by a vote of 419 to 0.

The law that currently governs how police can pry into your digital life is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was originally passed in 1986. The ancient rule allows law enforcement to search through emails, instant messages, photos, etc that are stored in the cloud once they are 180 days old. If you think that seems arbitrary and weird, that's because it is. Why 180? Why at all? Because in 1986, nobody could conceive the possibility of storing data that long.


Cop prevents man from committing suicide without killing him

In a swift and valiant move, a New Jersey police officer rushed to tackle a man who attempted to end his life by jumping from a highway overpass bridge on Monday.

Sgt. Greg Bogert, an 18-year veteran of the Riverdale Police Department, responded to multiple 911 calls concerning a man in apparent distress who had been wandering in and out of traffic on I-287. "When I first got the call at about 11:30 Monday morning, it was about a man walking back and forth, looking at the edge of the bridge and jumping in front of vehicles," Bogert explained, according to NorthJersey.com.


TSA whistleblowers: Agency has "bully bosses" and "Lord of the Flies" culture

Travelers aren't the only ones who are tired of being bullied by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): whistleblowers are speaking out now too.

Today, three TSA executives told members of Congress that poor leadership, a lack of oversight, low morale, and widespread retaliation has led to a culture of fear at the agency.

Mark Livingston, a program manager with the TSA's office of risk management, told members of Congress:
If you tell the truth in TSA you will be targeted. I call it the Lord of the Flies —either attack or be attacked.
From NBC:
The House Oversight Committee is investigating allegations TSA officials gave hefty bonuses to supervisors who ignored security warnings and retaliated against employees who spoke up by reassigning them and giving them negative performance reviews. Dozens of TSA employees have come forward to speak with congressional investigators about abuses of power.

Comment: This is another indication that the U.S. is now living under a pathocratic system; where at the very top of all or most governmental institutions the pathological mindset has taken the reins of power and everyone else is under its sway in one way or another. And heaven forbid one should try to correct or point out the error of its ways. You're either 'with it or against it'.

Heart - Black

Racism in Europe: Road signs showing distance to Iraq and Syria put up in Danish town

© Signe Marquard Rønn / Facebook
Controversial road signs showing the direction and distance to Syria and Iraq were set up in a Danish municipality with the most asylum seekers in the country. They did not last long, though, as while some claimed it was a "fine initiative", others branded it "racist."

Unknown people planted the controversial signs 'Syrien 4426' and 'Irak 5317' with arrows pointing to the direction to the two destinations and indicating the distance in kilometers, on Friday, local media reported. The signs were set up in the municipality of Thisted, Northern Denmark, which houses six refugee centers.

Although the signs did not "survive" for long as they were taken down by volunteers, they managed to spark a heated debate between their supporters and opponents.

The signs did not go unnoticed by the nationalist Danes' Party (Danskernes Parti), Thisted's deputy mayor and a number of activists. While some of them praised the move and others chastised it, most of them agreed that the incident has prompted a lively debate.

"Fine initiative to create a debate", wrote Thisted's deputy mayor Ib Poulsen on his Facebook page as reported by Ekstra Bladet.

Arrow Up

Monsanto loses, farmers win! Burkina Faso drops GM cotton over crop quality decline and economic losses

© Reuters/Munish Sharma
Farmer Darshan Singh plucks cotton from his damaged Bt cotton field on the outskirts of Bhatinda in Punjab, India, October 28, 2015.
Burkina Faso, Africa's top cotton producer and the sole West African nation to venture into biotech farming, is dropping genetically-modified (GM) cotton on quality grounds.

The world's 10th largest cotton producer, with four of its 19 million people dependent on the "white gold", Burkina Faso earlier this month said it was giving up Monsanto's GM Bt cotton because it had proved uneconomical.

Burkina took up GM cotton in the 2000s in the hopes of bumping up returns on what was then its top export product, surpassed in 2009 by gold.

But the country's association of cotton producers now say GM cotton, though producing higher yields, has caused a drop in crop quality.



The depressed state of the U.S. economy is driving people to suicide

Middle-aged people laid off and unable to find work are taking another way out. They're killing themselves.

Suicide rates are soaring, according to federal data released last week. Especially in economically depressed states and job-starved upstate New York. People in need of work are twice as likely to take their own lives as employed people, and people fired in their 40s and 50s find it hardest to get hired again.

That makes boosting economic growth a life-or-death issue for many. But you wouldn't know it listening to President Obama and Hillary Clinton. President Obama whitewashes reality, claiming the "American economy is pretty darn good right now."

False. The Obama economy is stalled. It grew at a measly .7 percent annualized rate the first quarter of this year. That's compared with the 3.5 percent rate the US enjoyed for most of the 20th century — what's needed to sustain employment and optimism.

True, the economy slowed under George W. Bush. Obama inherited a recession and, with it, a suicide epidemic. When the recession hit, suicide deaths suddenly started outnumbering deaths from auto accidents. But eight years later, job losses are still driving the suicide rate higher and higher.

Comment: The root of the problem can be directly attributed to psychopathic officials and their destructive influence on society. These individuals who have taken control of the U.S. have no real conscience or empathy for the masses, and it won't matter one whit who wins the next presidential election. The elites only pay lip service to the staggering social problems that have swamped the nation, as their priorities lie elsewhere.

21 signs that America is the most unhappy place in the world

Alarm Clock

Unbelievable! Oklahoma court rules that forced oral sex is not rape if victim is unconscious from drinking

© Shutterstock
Ruling is sparking outrage among critics who say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and buying outdated notions about rape

An Oklahoma court has stunned local prosecutors with a declaration that state law doesn't criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.

The ruling, a unanimous decision by the state's criminal appeals court, is sparking outrage among critics who say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and buying outdated notions about rape.

But legal experts and victims' advocates said they viewed the ruling as a sign of something larger: the troubling gaps that still exist between the nation's patchwork of laws and evolving ideas about rape and consent.

The case involved allegations that a 17-year-old boy assaulted a girl, 16, after volunteering to give her a ride home. The two had been drinking in a Tulsa park with a group of friends when it became clear that the girl was badly intoxicated. Witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant's car. Another boy, who briefly rode in the car, recalled her coming in and out of consciousness.

Comment: Sickening! Predators should be pleased with this ruling.